Turkish gov’t detains more than 70 women over alleged financial support for jailed Gülen followers

The Turkish government detained more than 70 women on Wednesday evening in five Turkish provinces as part of a Balıkesir-based investigation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by the Kronos online news outlet, 600 police officers took part in operations led by Balıkesir Police Chief Cengiz Zeybek and conducted raids on 63 locations in İzmir, Manisa, Uşak, Denizli and Balıkesir provinces. Police detained more than 70 women over alleged links to the Gülen movement during the raids.

The detained women are accused of providing financial assistance to the families of people who have been jailed or fled the persecution of the Turkish government over their suspected links to the movement. The women are also accused of having frequently visited families of the victims of the Turkish government led by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which has conducted a massive post-coup witch hunt against alleged members of the Gülen movement.

On Tuesday at least 13 women were also detained by police over their suspected ties to the movement in a Karaman-based investigation. According to reports in the Turkish media, the Karaman Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on March 22 issued detention warrants for 18 women due to their participation in Gülen movement activities. Police carried out operations in 11 provinces and have detained 13 of them so far, according to media reports on Tuesday. Out of the 13 detained, five were later released on judicial probation.

Women who have been jailed in an unprecedented crackdown have been subjected to torture and ill treatment in detention centers and prisons as part of the government’s systematic campaign of intimidation and persecution of critics and opponents, a report titled “Jailing Women In Turkey: Systematic Campaign of Persecution and Fear released in April 2017 by SCF revealed.

In several cases, women were detained in the hospital immediately after the delivery of a baby and before they had a chance to recover. Many women were jailed as they were visiting their imprisoned husbands, leaving the children stranded in the ensuing chaos.

Turkey survived coup attempt a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

Take a second to support SCF on Patreon!